Before you donate money to Breast Cancer Awareness this year, consider this...
For families like mine who have been affected by cancer, this month can be tough. Here are a few simple, tasteful things to keep in mind before you Go Pink this October....
1. Please stop calling it a fight.
A fight implies that there is a winner and a loser; that odds can be calculated and the strongest will prevail. It sets up an opposition- of good vs. evil. And creates a sense of blame for the individual who might not beat the odds. Cancer is not a survival of the fittest. It can make no sense the victims it selects. Please don't add blame and guilt to people who cannot be considered "survivors".
2. Consider your contributions.
When our mother was sick, we got so much. I am forever endebted to the kindness of a community that loved and supported us in our hardest times. However, to some people's dismay, it is not the financial gifts I appreciated the most, but the presence, kindness and respect of others.
I remember neighbors who offered to drive my mom to appointments so my father could work.
Walks with the dog.
Art projects from her former students.
Cards in the mail from people far away.
Prayer chains, drawings from children and hot meals made us feel supported.
3. Ditch the Pink
We were fully "aware" of breast cancer. On the contrary, we desperately wished to forget about it for those 5 minute amnesia spells where we went back to normal.
Instead, we loved a phone call, a walk, a new Netflix recommendation or a funny book. We looked for distractions from, not reminders of this horrific illness that permeated our routines.
4. Remember It's Not a Fundraiser. Medical evolution happens in biology labs, through medical trials and due to the ingenuity of doctors. It is not more money that we need, but more people qualified to ask questions and study information. If you want a cure, encourage more people to pursue higher education for someday they may be capable of discovering information that can transform people's fate.
5. Less is More
Maybe the best way you can honor those with breast cancer this month is by taking charge of your own health-men, women and children. Seeking preventional care can be nearly miraculous in fending off serious illnesses.
6. Think For Yourself
Mothers well-being sets the tone for her children. Wellness has no end to the ripple effects it causes in a family-for better or worse.
So figure out in what way you might improve your well-being this fall.
Maybe that is going to bed earlier, or getting outside a little more.
Maybe it's making an appointment with your OB/GYN for that Pap smear you've put off.
Maybe it's meditation, pursuing education, breaking off an unhealthy friendship or saying "no" to things that overwhelm you.
However you choose to be aware this month, remember that noticing a problem is not the same as resolving it. Be mindful of those who may be struggling and choose to give, recognize and cure thoughtfully with love and not just money.